2 Corinthians 13: BLESSED ASSURANCE
“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God; Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” (Blessed Assurance, Fanny Crosby)
Do you have assurance? “ Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith; tests yourselves.” Paul asks in closing his letter to the believers in the Corinth church to examine themselves to see if they are ‘in the faith.’ Today we end our study in these two letters of Paul’s to the church in Corinth, which is as applicable today to the church and believers as it was when Paul wrote it centuries before. How can that be? That something written long ago can be so applicable 20 centuries later? It is because the truth and truths of the Bible last forever. Man does not really change, new inventions, trends, and fads, cultural changes are nothing new, and they just use new technology to commit the same old sins. Same old lies dressed in the political correctness of tolerance.
Today, the politically correct word is tolerance. One of the scriptures used most often by those who disagree with Biblical truths is: “Judge not that you be not judged.” As if this verse taken out of context from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount gives one a free pass to live anyway they want to live. That truth is relative and their truth is as good as your truth. “What gives you the right to judge”, the unbelieving world asks the believer who disagrees with them on what is right and wrong.
I like what Francis Beckwith, Christian Author, said after sharing at an open meeting on media’s responsibility for broadcasting of programs that contain sex, violence and obscenity and the impact it had on society. In other words, Beckwith was calling upon the media to judge itself. A distressed young woman in the audience asked him the question: “Who are you to judge?” This is what our culture has come to believe of Christians and those who oppose or disagree with their lifestyle, actions, beliefs and words.
Beckwith answered her: “I certainly do have a right to make moral judgements. I am a rational human being who is aware of certain fundamental principles of logical and moral reasoning. I think I’m qualified. Your claim that I have no right to make judgments is itself a judgement about me. Your claim, therefore, is self-refuting.” (“ Relativism, pg. 12, Beckwith & Koukl, Baker Publishing.)
Now if you read the whole Sermon on the Mount, you will see in the preceding chapter, Matthew 6, Jesus talks about the hypocrites, the Pharisees. Jesus is implying we are not to be hypocritical judges, for God will judge us by the same standards. These self-righteous Pharisees had a beam in their eyes while attacking and judging another with a speck in their eyes. Jesus says rid yourself of the beam first than help your brother remove the speck. In the same passage, Jesus tells us not to give to dogs what is sacred or cast our pearls before swine. Jesus tells us watch out for false prophets, and the only way to know a false prophet is to know the absolute truth by which we are to judge. He tells us to judge another professed believer by their fruit. We are also told not to judge others by outward appearance. So Jesus did not tell us not to judge or examine. He gave us specific do’s and don’ts. In Matthew 18 Jesus further instructs us how to deal with sin in the church.
So Paul is simply asking them to do what they have been doing to him. They have been examining him to see if he was who he said he was. Now Paul says they should examine themselves to see if they are in Jesus Christ. Are they really and truly saved? What does real faith look like?
There used to be a television game show called, To Tell the Truth, where 3 people would all claim to be the same person. This person had done something remarkable. The panel was read a brief biography of this person and their accomplishment and then the panel questioned the persons to see which one was telling the truth and which of the other two were imposters, counterfeits.
Paul challenges us to do the same. So let me first like the television show share with you the elements of a true believer, a Christian who possesses genuine, real faith.
Here is our defining description of real faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11: 1) This description tells us faith is in the present tense. “Now faith is.” It further tells us faith exists in the area of the unknown, unrealized hope and unseen, uncertain future. The enemy of faith is doubt. Doubt creates worry, anxiety and fear. These question the object of your faith. It is not your faith which is of most importance. Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. The most important thing is the object of your faith. What or who is your faith in? Paul said examine and see if realize without any doubt Jesus Christ is in you and you have placed your faith in Him. “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Paul tells us the Holy Spirit testifies we are in Christ and He is in us. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
Peter tells us we desired the Word of God like a newborn babe desires milk. 1 Peter 2. Do you desire the Word of God? The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to grow your faith. It is the source of faith- “now faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” And who is the Word? Jesus is the Word of God. He is the way, the truth and the life.
Paul tells us we are new creatures and old things have passed away and are passing away. Sin no longer controls you. You have been changed and are changing. This is the progressive work of sanctification, carried out by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. Have you been changed from the inside- out? Do you have a new perspective of life? New Morals? A New Master? A new mandate?
John wrote: “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how WE KNOW THAT HE LIVES IN US: WE KNOW IT BY THE SPIRIT HE GAVE US.” (I John 3: 23, 24)
Real faith is simple faith. Children can believe it. It is not complicated. “John 3: 16 is as simple as verse as there is. We all know it. In Romans 10 Paul tells us exactly what we must believe and confess: “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart you believe and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”
The Gospel we believe is simple and has three elements. “ For what I received ( the Gospel) I passed on to you as of FIRST IMPORTANCE: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and then He appeared to Peter and the twelve. After that He appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time.” (I Cor. 15) The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. Notice how all inclusive it is: it is for everyone who believes. It is also exclusive- Jesus made this claim: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me. It is the narrow gate and the straight way, unfortunately few enter in.
God has done everything. His Grace has provided what we need, all we need. “For by Grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared, ( ordained) in advance for us to do- to walk in.” (Ephesians 2” 8-10)
Are you involved in the work God has prepared for you to do? Are you bearing fruit?
Real faith trusts God, not self. Proverbs 3 says trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He shall direct your path.”
Examine yourself continuously. Question your motives, your decisions and actions. Grade according to the key- the absolute truth of God’s Word.
Now Paul’s goal was not for you to doubt your salvation. But to examine it. To see if your actions and all the areas of your life were in accordance with the Word of God. Are you walking in the Spirit with your eyes on things above? Or are you walking the world with your eyes on the things of the world? It is a balancing act and the Lord knows how to keep us in balance. The Holy Spirit is like our GPS which tells us which way to turn and when we turn the wrong way, He warns us to re-route- to turn around and get back on the straight and narrow way.
Will we become sinless? No. But we should sin less; we should be experiencing victories over sin. We are in pursuit of holiness. We are in training. We should be making progress. It takes time. We see this in the stories God has chosen to share with us in His Word. Abraham made wrong turns, as did Adam and Eve and remember who their Father was, and where and how they lived.
David was the apple of God’s eye, and yet David committed some horrific sins. All through the Bible God allows us to see how He works in the lives of those who place their trust in Him. They were imperfect, flawed people, marred by sin. This is why God sent Jeremiah down to the potter’s shed to see how God takes our lives in these earthen clay vessels and re-shapes them. How He will put us in the refiner’s fire to burn off the dross. Peter says these fiery trials have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-, may be proved genuine and my result in praise glory and honor- when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1)
“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, all is at rest. I’m in my Savior happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with His glory. Filled with His Love. “
Perhaps you are out of fellowship with the Lord. It might be sin in your life, of which you need to repent, and remember repentance means a change of mind which results in a change of direction.
Maybe you have disappointed yourself and the Lord with some of your actions. Peter certainly knows what it is to disappoint the One he loved so much. Peter had denied he knew the Lord three times on the night the Lord Jesus was arrested.
The last chapter of the Gospel of John, chapter 21 is about Peter’s restoration and reconciliation. Peter needed to know, just as you need to know you can start over again.
Restoration begins with repentance. Repentance is not remorse. We have two parallel stories of remorse and repentance with Judas and Peter who both betrayed the Lord Jesus. Remorse is sorrow for your sin. Repentance is a desire to change, to turn around. The enemy wants to destroy you as surely as he destroyed Judas.
Restoration begins with repentance which provides reconciliation with the one whom you have wrong. Making amends with the one you have hurt and disappointed.
The start of the earthly journey the disciples experienced began with a simple reply to Andrew and John’s following Him the day John the Baptist pointed out Jesus and said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. They followed Jesus. Let those three words sink in. He asked them, what are you seeking? This is the question of life isn’t it? Andrew asked, “Where do you live?” Jesus invites them and us on a journey with the same invitation: “Come and see.”
Follow me and I will make out of you, what I created you to be. There in this relationship with the One who created you- you will find your purpose for life. All things were created by Him and for Him and they are all sustained by Him.
Purpose is to life what the skeleton is to one’s body. It is the foundational support. Without is your life falls apart.
The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining. We know life is in the blood. And the Blood of Christ runs through this Holy Book like a scarlet thread. This why the Word of God is alive- the Blood of Christ brings life to this book and it is why it never grows old or fades. It is the bread of life for all who hunger; it is an eternal spring for all who thirsts. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Jesus knew who He was He came to reveal who we are.
He wants you to know- that you know, that you know- you are His and He is yours.
The enemy wants to cause the believer to doubt for this renders one ineffective.
Jesus longs to gather you as a mother hen would her chicks. What are you waiting for- run to His open arms like the prodigal did to his waiting father, who ran to him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.
Experience the Blessed Assurance!